Throughout my life, I have been drawn to untold stories and the music that elevates them. Stories that are lost, stories that are forgotten except by the very few. Stories that hold the highest stakes in the smallest of places. One of my dearest mentors taught me, when creating pieces of historical fiction, not to write facts but to write truth. There will always be the facts—historical and political art rely on them—but it is my job to look deeply past the sea of semantics and technicalities for the human element: the story.
Theatre requires every art form to succeed: fine arts, performance art, literature, music, etc. It has special rules that can be broken in a thousand different ways to all sorts of effects. Theatre has no singular place of creation; it can be conceived in a school cafeteria, a bedroom, a park, or most notably, a Broadway stage. When the stars align, theatre can create community, share ideas, and evoke profound emotion.
I have always sought the most interesting and personal forms of theatre. I grew up seeing three-person dramas in Alphabet-City basements and some of the grandest Broadway spectacles. My first dates were at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center, and small-town chamber ensembles. I saw that everything was theatre: music was just as important to an off-off-Broadway show as lighting and set design was to an evening of Mozart.
I studied composition in high school, writing as often as my schedule would allow me. I was exposed to composers like Arvo Pärt, David Lang, and Missy Mazzoli who would forever have an impact on my music. When I entered college, I was able to study with my idols. Their guidance elevated my work, my commitment to revision, and my ability to communicate clearly through each medium. They taught me to start with this simplest impulse and revise for the most interesting choice. With every piece and every reexamination, I found my music gaining depth.
I taught myself to be a lyricist. I studied Stephen Sondheim, Tim Rice, Irving Berlin, and Fred Ebb. I wrote pastiche songs, I studied character voice, dramatic structure—I wrote a play. I started to understand where the words came from and their meaning.
Finally, I realized that some of the most interesting new classical music was nowhere near Broadway, and new opera would benefit from the preexisting Broadway dramatic structures. Since then, I have been resolute in bridging the gap between the unconventional, sublime new classical movement and the functional, mainstream Broadway musical. Within that gap is an untapped depth of musical and emotional expression that I can explore, all the while telling the stories dearest to me.